Survive Your Second Pregnancy When You Have a Toddler

Pregnant woman, another woman touching her belly, and a toddler looking at smartphone

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Being pregnant can be difficult, particularly during the first trimester. More often than not, early pregnancy comes with emotional changes, irritability, and mood swings. That coupled by the exhaustion and the morning sickness, and there is very little left to care for another child. And yet, so many mothers manage to do it every day. What’s their secret?

Do you remember your first pregnancy? You probably napped whenever you could. Perhaps you let things slide around the house while you relaxed and practiced self-care. This is not so when your toddler is around. You have to be on your toes and able to take care of them, which doesn't leave much time for napping at will. This is the challenge of a subsequent pregnancy.​

Caring for a Toddler While Pregnant

Here are some tips for caring for a toddler when your second pregnancy is getting the best of you.

Plan Accordingly

If you know that morning is your worst time as far as how you feel goes, try planning ahead so you can get more done at night. If you have pregnancy insomnia, this might even be more helpful to plan to get stuff done when you’re awake and maybe other people aren’t.

Shifting your schedule to cater how you feel is a wise move that requires the least amount of changes to your overall parenting philosophy.

Reset Your Expectations

Remember that you are busy. You are growing another baby; you aren’t being lazy. You are physically experiencing something that is preventing or making it difficult for you to accomplish all the tasks at hand as you would normally.

Let yourself slack a bit when it comes to some of the household duties. If it takes you two weeks to get around to changing the sheets or if you let the laundry pile up a bit, the world will not fall apart. You could also ask your partner for extra help.

Find Distractions for Your Toddler

While you can't exactly lock yourself in your room for a nap or in the bathroom for a hot Epsom salt bath while letting your toddler have free rein, maybe it's time to let them watch some television.

If you've been limiting your toddler's screen time up until this point, good for you, since studies have shown that excessive screen use can cause mental and behavioral problems in young children. However, allowing them to watch their favorite show or play a game on their iPad for a short duration can go a long way in helping you get a few moments of respite to yourself.

One mom I know would turn on a series of baby music videos, but kept the screen off while the audio played. But whenever she felt a wave of nausea coming on she would turned the screen back on while she ran to the bathroom, keeping her toddler entertained and engaged. Another mother swore by the benefits of resting for a half an hour in front of a baby-friendly show with her toddler on her lap.

What could you do with this suggestion this that wouldn’t completely change how you feel about screen use? Do you have a bucket of toys that were well-loved but only came out when your toddler needed a break? What about a fun and educational DVD you could live with?

Utilize Your Resources

Perhaps it's time to lower your housekeeping standards or get help. Your partner is the obvious first choice. Helping with additional chores, including laundry and cooking can be major. Though sometimes with work schedules or the business of life, this isn't always an option. Your network of friends and family may be another place to turn to for help, particularly with some of those bigger chores.

If you have the ability, find help—and budget for it if you must. This could mean that you have a friend who agrees to help you with childcare occasionally for the sole purpose of you getting a nap in. Or it could be that you decided that now would be a good time for a mother’s day out program.

Some families find that hiring a teen in the neighborhood to come over after school helps. Some use the teen for childcare while they nap or get some chores done, while others have the teen do the chores.

You might hire a maid service, even if it’s just to come in and do the heavy lifting such as the floor and toilet scrubbing once a month. This can keep the house under control and away from a public health hazard until you feel better. You could also consider a postpartum doula.

Think Outside the Box

Having a toddler while you're pregnant is a great chance to practice your creativity and to learn how to juggle multiple responsibilities. You will have to learn to balance caring for your toddler while caring for yourself and the baby. This is sometimes a difficult lesson for parents to learn. Don't forget that taking care of you is just as important, particularly in pregnancy.

When you can, make time to do something nice for yourself, be it a massage, or just a quiet hour alone on a neighborhood stroll or seated in a coffee shop. Be creative when it comes to being kind to yourself. If your budget is tight, see if you can set aside five dollars a week to treat yourself to a new book or music, or something that brings you pleasure and gives you a break.

Pregnancy is only 40 weeks, but sometimes it can feel like a lot longer. Remember, you will have good days and bad days. Ask for help when you need it and continue to care for yourself.

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